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Department of Justice
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The United States and Missouri Reach Agreement With Doe Run Resources Corporation on Cleanup of More Than 4,000 Lead-Contaminated Residential Yards in Missouri

The United States, together with the State of Missouri, announced a consent decree today that requires the Doe Run Resources Corporation (Doe Run) to clean up more than 4,000 lead-contaminated residential properties near the Big River Mine Tailings Site in St. Francois County, Missouri. The consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period.

According to the settlement terms, Doe Run is required to excavate lead contaminated soil on approximately 4,100 affected residential properties, and to perform additional cleanup at the Hayden Creek mine waste area.

“Under today’s action by DOJ, EPA, and the State of Missouri, Doe Run has agreed to take significant actions to address lead contamination at thousands of residential properties in St. Francois County,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Part of the ‘Old Lead Belt,’ this area is in the midst of one of the largest former lead mining districts in the world. Timely action to clean up these contaminated areas is vital to the surrounding communities.”

“Protecting our communities from the toxic effects of lead is one of Administrator Pruitt’s top priorities,” EPA Region 7 Administrator Jim Gulliford said. “I am pleased that this agreement will result in the cleanup of more than 4,000 residential properties, helping to protect the residents of St. Francois County.” 

Historical mining activities in St. Francois County released hazardous heavy metals, including lead, cadmium, and zinc, onto residential properties. This settlement is a mixed funding arrangement where EPA will contribute up to $31.54 million toward the cleanup, which is estimated to cost a total of $111 million. 

Lead exposure can cause a range of adverse health effects, from behavioral disorders and learning disabilities to seizures and death, putting young children at the greatest risk because their nervous systems are still developing. During the 2013 to 2016 period, there were approximately 200,000 children across the nation ages 1-5 years with elevated blood lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter, the reference level that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention uses to identify children with blood lead levels that are much higher than most children’s levels and who require case management. 

In the three zip codes comprising the majority of the Big River Mine Tailings Site, between 9.3 percent and 16.7 percent of children have an elevated blood lead level above 5 micrograms per deciliter. 

Reducing childhood lead exposure and addressing associated health impacts is a top priority for the Trump Administration and EPA. On February 15, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt hosted key members of the Trump Administration to collaborate on a federal strategy making childhood lead exposure a priority for their respective departments and agencies.

Through the Superfund Task Force he established in May 2017, Administrator Pruitt is also revitalizing EPA’s Superfund Program to prioritize and take action to expeditiously establish control over any Superfund site where the risk of human exposure is not fully controlled. The cleanup of these residential properties reflects EPA’s commitment to reduce human exposure, especially children’s exposure, to hazardous substances.  

The consent decree was lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. Notice of the lodging of the consent decree will appear in the Federal Register allowing for a 30-day public comment period before the consent decree can be entered by the court as final judgment. The consent decree will available for viewing at www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.

Topic(s): 
Environment
Press Release Number: 
18-406
Updated April 4, 2018